Friday, February 10, 2017

Laugh of the day: Australian academics want to boycott the USA

Trump must be biting his fingernails over that one

An academic boycott of the United States is warranted, writes Dr Christopher Peterson. But the Australian tertiary sector’s response so far is too weak.

Today I signed a petition calling for a boycott of international academic conferences held in the US. The boycott has been organised in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban entry to the US by Muslims from seven selected countries.

The boycott currently has over 5,000 signatures. I also signed another petition imploring Australian Universities to explicitly denounce Trump’s polices as well as to support international students by funding scholarships for students from countries affected by the ban.

I am an American citizen by birth, and a naturalized Australian citizen. So it’s disorienting to say the least to be boycotting my home country.

Detractors of boycotts point to the collateral harm they sometimes inflict on those whom we are intending to help. Yet the preservation of American democracy outweighs whatever temporary inconveniences American academics might incur if the call for a boycott receives widespread support.


Welcome to "green" electricity

S.A. turned off its last coal-fired station in the middle of last year.  This is the fourth time since then that there has been a power outage.  On this occasion the atmospheric high pressure cell that brought the high temperatures also caused the wind to stop blowing, bringing the output from all the wind farms to almost nothing.  So green power makes it likely that you will lose power just when you most need it. The small gas-powered Pelican point generator is privately owned and usually runs well below capacity for cost reasons.

SA POWER Networks was ordered on Wednesday night to restore electricity to about 40,000 households and businesses after supplies were deliberately cut amid soaring temperatures.

Power to customers across the state was switched off from 6.33pm under “rotational load shedding’’ orders from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) “due to lack of available generation supply in SA”, SA Power Networks said. About 45 minutes later electricity was restored after SA Power Networks announced that AEMO had ordered it to return supply.

“AEMO has called an end to load shedding, we are restoring power,’’ the supplier said.

As customers reacted with outrage, the blame game immediately began.

State Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said: “Every South Australian has a right to be angry. We had spare capacity in the SA generation market and the market didn’t turn that generation on.”

“The second unit at Pelican Point (power station) could’ve been turned on last night, it had gas, was ready to go and it wasn’t turned on. The national market isn’t working,” he said.

“We (the State Government) have been taking advice from the market operator and others but after last night we have to reassess. We will do what’s necessary to make sure SA has sufficient generation,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“It’s my understanding that AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator) was made aware more generation was available and chose not to turn that generation on. Serious questions have to be asked about why we had generation available that wasn’t used.”

The temperature was still above 40C when the rolling blackouts began at 6.33pm to conserve power supplies as homeowners used airconditioners for relief from the heat.

SA’s power reliability will again be under scrutiny given a series of major blackouts, including a statewide failure in September.

An SA Power Networks spokesman said they were acting on instructions from AEMO in response to insufficient generation supply in SA. “We don’t generate,” he said. “This is not an SA Power Networks issue — we are the muggins in the middle between the customer and generation supply.”

SA Liberal frontbencher Simon Birmingham said it was “yet another example that the South Australian Government can’t keep the lights on”. “It’s a chronic failing that can only hurt investment confidence in the state,” Mr Birmingham said.

“It’s a demonstration that ad hoc state-based renewable energy targets have gone too far — when reliability can’t be maintained on a day the likes of which SA faces numerous times every single summer.”

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the blackout “is yet another example of Jay Weatherill’s failed experiment”. “Because of the lack of base load generation there literally wasn’t enough electricity being produced to power the state,” he said.

“It’s time Labor both federally and at a state level recognised its high renewable energy targets are putting at risk energy security and affordability.”

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) issued a statement, saying at 6.33pm on Wednesday “approximately 100 megawatts (MW) of local load shedding was instructed in South Australia to maintain the security of the power system.”

It said “load shedding” — affecting about 40,000 homes and businesses — was “instructed by AEMO to avoid damage to network equipment due to potential overloading.”

At 7pm AEMO gave permission to restore the 100 MW of load, and at about 7.10pm electricity supply had been restored.

Angry customers who lost power on dinner time took to social media to express their outrage with the electricity system. They also noted that, yet again, businesses were losing money due to uncertain electricity supplies.

The public also took full advantage of Premier Jay Weatherill’s “Q & Jay” life Facebook session on Wednesday night, with critical comments pouring in.

Among them Anthony Hunter wrote: “Here’s a question, why are we having load-shedding power cuts right at this moment, when it’s only one day of hot weather. “Surely the hottest state in Australia can handle one day of heat?”


PNG deports Manus asylum seekers

Papua New Guinea authorities have moved to force the deportation of at least one asylum seeker housed on Manus Island. It is understood PNG police officers arrived on the island in the early hours of Thursday morning. They took one man to an aircraft while another ran away.

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament on Thursday he had been advised the men were not refugees, but Greens senator Nick McKim said their appeal processes had not yet been exhausted.

"I am advised that every single individual the subject of these removal proceedings is a person whose claim to refugee status has been processed and rejected," Senator Brandis said. "It is quite wrong, therefore, for Senator McKim to claim as he does that rights are being violated."

PNG had every right in international law to return the men to their country of origin. "That is what the New Guinean authorities are doing," the attorney said.

Senator McKim said the deportations should be stopped. "Forcibly deporting them trashes their human rights, and places Australia and Papua New Guinea in flagrant breach of their international human rights obligations," he said. "It is incumbent on the Australian government to ensure that the legal rights of all detainees are being protected, including all avenues of appeal."

The men's lawyer, Ben Lomai, said at least one Nepalese asylum seeker had been removed from the Australian-run Manus Island centre so he could be flown to Port Moresby and then to Nepal.

Mr Lomai told the ABC the government should not deport the men until problems with the assessment process were resolved. "It's a concern that some of them ... may not have been assessed properly," he said.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian detainee on Manus Island, told the Huffington Post about 10 police officers arrived early on Thursday morning and woke two men. "They took one of them while he was crying and the other one escaped and now is lost," he said.

The Nepalese detainees had been under pressure for some time, with five of them signing up to a $20,000 deal in exchange for them returning home. "Immigration has said to the people with negative status sign this paper and get $20,000 or we will deport you by force," he said.


'He doesn't have a fair dinkum bone in him': Malcolm Turnbull doubles down on Bill Shorten attack

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has doubled down on his character assassination of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, labelling him a "fake" who "doesn't have a fair dinkum bone in him".

It follows an extraordinary tirade in Parliament on Wednesday in which Mr Turnbull attacked his counterpart as "a social-climbing sycophant" and a "parasite" who cosied up to billionaires.

Mr Shorten has in the past week taken to calling the Prime Minister "Mr Harbourside Mansion", a reference to his lavish Point Piper home and a term coined by Tony Abbott's former chief-of-staff Peta Credlin.

"Shorten is complete hypocrite," Mr Turnbull said at a press conference on Thursday. "He wants to play the politics of envy and yet he's been a sycophant to the billionaires of Melbourne for years and years - everyone knows that."

The Prime Minister insisted Mr Shorten's Labor colleagues agreed with his incendiary rant during question time on Wednesday, in which he also accused Mr Shorten of selling out workers while at the Australian Workers Union.

"Those criticisms rang true. The people who know him best are his own colleagues - they know he is a fake, he has no integrity, no consistency. he doesn't have a fair dinkum bone in him," Mr Turnbull said. "They knew that everything I said about him was true."

The personal attack on Mr Shorten and vice versa marks a descent into character assassination that had so far been largely absent from the political battle between the two party leaders.

In an apparent reference to his reportedly hostile phone call with US President Donald Trump, Mr Turnbull said he had the ability to stand up to billionaires and "take them on".

"I back myself. I am my own man. I can't be bought by anyone," he said on Thursday. "I don't suck up to billionaires, I look them in the eye and when I need to take them on."

Mr Turnbull denied his attack on "social-climbing" was a demonstration of class warfare that took the Coalition away from the aspirational voters it targeted under John Howard.

"I don't think sucking up to billionaires, saying one thing in the well-upholstered living rooms of Melbourne to powerful captains of industry, and another thing on the hustings - I don't think that's what aspirational Australia is about," he said.

Mr Shorten rejected the criticism on Thursday, suggesting the government should be defending plans to cut family tax payments.

"I'm not going to sell out my beliefs merely because Mr Turnbull is yelling at us," he said. "The more he yells at me, the more I wonder if he is judging himself.  "I'm relaxed in my own skin, I'm relaxed with my record of representing people."


Malcolm Turnbull says $5.6 million salary of Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour is too high

It sure is

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the $5.6 million salary of Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour is "too high", a day after the Senate thwarted efforts to keep Australia's biggest public service pay packet secret.

A Senate committee on Tuesday refused the company's request to keep Mr Fahour's salary and bonuses confidential after deciding it was overwhelmingly in the public interest.

Documents show one senior executive of the government owned company, understood to be Mr Fahour, received a $4.4 million salary with bonuses and $1.2 million in superannuation, while five other executives received salaries of between $1.3 million to $1.8 million.

Mr Turnbull, who is paid $507,338 a year, said he had told Australia Post chairman John Stanhope he believed the salary was too high.

"The Australia Post board in independent, it makes its own commercial decisions so this is not a decision of the government," he said.

"As the Prime Minister and a taxpayer, I've spoken to the chairman today. I think that salary, that remuneration, is too high.

"I think it's too high, I know it's a big job, it's a big company. I know the company has been able to improve its position but in my view, and I say this as someone who spent most of his life in the business world before I came into politics, I think that is a very big salary for that job.

"I'm entitled to my opinion, just like every other Australian is, and I think many would agree with me."

An Australia Post spokeswoman said this week Mr Fahour's pay "takes into account the size and complexity of the organisation, which has an annual turnover of more than $6 billion".

The company published detailed information about executive salaries up until its 2014-15 annual report. The last time Mr Fahour's salary was listed was in the 2013-14 annual report, when he received a salary of $1.7 million and a bonus of $2.6 million.

A further $2 million he was due in net superannuation payments was "mutually agreed" to be turned into a pre-tax $2.8 million donation to the Islamic Museum of Australia, founded by his brother Moustafa Fahour.

Labor senator Doug Cameron said Australian companies were pushing "Bangladesh" wage rates and conditions for workers, but Wall Street pay and conditions for executives. "I just can't for the life of me understand why any public servant would need to be paid over $5 million," he said.  "I have appeared in estimates with Australia Post and I can't see over $5 million worth of value out of any individual."

Liberal James Paterson, chair of the committee responsible for releasing the information this week, said it was clearly in the public interest.

"A lot of other organisations, the NBN, for example, publishes this information and listed companies in Australia are required by law to publish it, so I don't see why a publicly owned entity like Australia Post should have less disclosure obligations than a private company," he told the ABC.

"It is an extremely generous salary package and it makes him the highest paid public servant effectively in Australia, even more than the NBN CEO, who received about $3.6 million last financial year." 

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said the revelation was disgusting and pledged to take action. "No Australians would support this. No one," she said.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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